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The City Journals

Cottonwood boys soccer team learns life lessons with new coach

May 10, 2017 10:58AM ● By Brian Shaw

The Cottonwood boys soccer team for 2017. (Photo/Stephanie Wynder )

By Brian Shaw  | [email protected]

After a promising preseason, the Cottonwood Colts boys soccer team has seen its share of struggles on the pitch in region play.

As new Cottonwood boys soccer coach Dominic Minutello learns the nuances and tendencies of his players, so too does he want them to understand losing is part of the journey.

“It’s a process. Each practice and every game. We have a good group of kids that is very talented,” said Minutello. “But, figuring out where they best fit with each other is a process.”

A tough 3-2 loss in double overtime to Jordan in the Colts region opener March 17 followed impressive season opening victories over Springville and Kearns.

However, taking life one day at a time as Minutello often stresses to his Colts team helped them overcome that tough region opening loss to Jordan.

In that next match on March 22, a hard-fought, 1-0 win over Taylorsville signaled a change in momentum for the Colts, who got the game winner from senior Aidan Newsome early on—his only goal of the season thus far. Fellow senior Miguel Aviles got the shutout in goal for the Colts, who evened their region mark to 1-1 with the victory.

The Colts have since lost three straight region matches in successive fashion, each loss becoming more painful than the other. But, Minutello still likes what he sees out of his team.

“A good sign of a team that’s on the rise is one that gets neither too high or too low. And, so far, we’ve been able to do that,” he added.

According to Minutello though, he’ll take most of the blame for the Colts 5-1 loss to Bingham on April 4. That said, however, he still thinks the Colts can do some things to right the ship.

“In some of the recent losses we were right in it,” said Minutello, whose Colts lost 2-1 to West Jordan and 3-0 to Copper Hills before that loss to Bingham. “The last game against [Bingham], we tried a new formation and so that loss was 95 percent my fault, but I feel like we learned a lot from that,” said the former Salt Lake Sting star. “I tell the kids there’s really no bad thing in taking a loss when you’re learning.”

To that end, Minutello added that freshman Rylee Penny scored a big goal—his first as a varsity player—against Bingham. And so the new coach had something to say to the other Colts players who might read this.

“I don’t care what color of skin you have; I don’t care what club team you came from,” Minutello said. “If you can produce and you’re fit and you can keep your grades up, we’ll reward you with a spot in the varsity lineup.”

Upon Minutello’s arrival, he said the kids had to really learn and readjust their thinking. In the past several years for example, the Colts hadn’t even qualified for the state tournament.

Minutello knows what it’s like to be new to a situation. He first came to Salt Lake City back in 1990, signing a professional contract with the now-defunct Salt Lake Sting.

In his first game with the Sting against the Albuquerque Chiles though, he scored a hat trick. Coming out of a storied college soccer program at UNLV, Minutello said upon his arrival almost two decades ago he fell in love with Salt Lake, married a local woman and the rest is history.

Now, he’d like to make a little history of his own at Cottonwood with the boys he’s now in charge of coaching. 

“At the beginning of the season, we set our standards really high,” said Minutello, whose team currently sits at 1-3 in region play, 3-4 overall. “We want to give ourselves a chance to play in the last games of the season.

“As the season goes on though, we need to see who can step up. I have so many seniors this season, so it’s hard to get them the minutes they want because they’re all really talented,” he said.

But, Minutello added that he’s getting a good idea as the season nears its midway point as to who will play the majority of the minutes and how his team will play from here on out.

“We’ve kind of used the first half of the season to experiment,” said Minutello. “As we move forward now, we need to get to a lineup of 12-13 guys that we feel are going to carry us. To be honest, there isn’t one guy who can carry us through the rest of the season. We’ll need to do this together.”

With kids coming from all walks of life to Cottonwood, Minutello said he knew what he was getting himself into when he took the job. He understands that coaching the Colts comes with its own challenges and rewards. And he said he’s tried to instill that mindset in his players.

“Our slogan this year is we have to be all in with one vision. We need to come together as a unit. We need to focus on having players go out together off the field,” said Minutello.

“Some of the best teams I played on growing up did things together. So, I’m trying to instill having fun in the kids, and tell them that you really have to care about your teammates. It’s all about chemistry for us. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have, if you don’t have chemistry it’ll be difficult. But, when—not if—we get there, I’ll be with them 100 percent of the way.”